Obama, Bushite Climate Obstructionist or Hero?

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 12/08/2011 11:58:00 AM
It's Christmastime, there's no need to be afraid...or is there? One thing for sure is that there will be no snow in Africa this Christmas. Or maybe even a partial deal on combating global warming, for that matter. For the third year running, the end-of-year multilateral agenda is dominated by climate change given that the WTO Doha Development Agenda is in limbo. One of the difficulties with the ongoing meeting in Durban, South Africa concerns establishing a Green Climate Fund. It is meant to, well, fund technology transfer from developed to developing nations for combating climate change. Supposedly, the Durban shindig was to finalize the format of the Green Climate Fund:
[T]he Transitional Committee shall develop and recommend for approval to the COP at its 17th session to be held in Durban, South Africa, from 28 November to 9 December 2011, a number of operational documents for the Green Climate Fund. In the conduct of its work, the COP requested the Transitional Committee to encourage input from all Parties and from relevant international organizations and observers.
To make a long story short, let's just say this is not happening at the moment. The big disagreement, you will not be surprised, concerns how much developed countries are willing to put in towards the establishment of this fund. Love them or hate them, the Yanks still hold many of the cards as to whether such a fund will come into existence:
A flagship green climate fund aimed at channelling billions of dollars to help poor countries tackle global warming has been put on ice at the Durban climate summit as a growing number of countries bicker over how it should work.

Wealthy countries have promised to mobilise up to $100bn a year by 2020 to help developing countries tackle climate change. A significant portion is expected to flow through the fund but there have been tensions from the start over how much control donor and recipient countries should have over the fund...

Ahead of the summit, the US and Saudi Arabia said they would not sign off on a report setting out a blueprint for the fund, which took much of the past year to finalise...

US deputy special envoy for climate change, Jonathan Pershing, told the conference the US wanted to see the fund become operational in Durban. But there had been a “rushed” timetable for agreeing on its design, he said, and “the final draft text raised a number of substantive concerns and included certain errors and inconsistencies that could result in confusion”.

Anti-poverty campaigners agreed there were some aspects of the proposed design of the fund that were not ideal. “But unfortunately, any delay that may now occur would play mostly into the hands of the US and other countries that would rather avoid a discussion of where the money will come from to fill the fund,” said Tim Gore of Oxfam.
Well that's one version of the story. In another one being propagated by climate change deniers, the US is said to be willing to go along with a globally applicable Tobin tax on foreign exchange transactions. The said reason is that ratifying a multilateral climate regime in the US is difficult--remember Kyoto, "the American way of life is not for sale" according to Bush Senior and all that. Hence, the deniers are scaremongering about a backdoor process to rob Americans of their sovereignty, tax them and the rest of that paleoconservative stuff:
President Obama's team of negotiators at the United Nations Climate Change Conference may agree to a tax on foreign currency transactions, designed to pay for a "Green Climate Fund," that would fall disproportionately on American travellers and businesses, according to a group attending the conference that is skeptical of the UN position on global warming.

...Obama is open to implementing this tax and similar policies in the absence of a full climate treaty, which would require congressional approval. "We have learned that while many have discounted this conference, knowing that a full climate treaty is difficult to achieve especially with a U.S. Senate that will not vote to ratify," CFACT says. "Obama and his fellow climate travelers are working around the Senate and planning to stick America with the bill."
Aside from these paleoconservatives not understanding that foreign exchange trading far eclipses actual trade flows (of goods and services), can poor President Obama be both a climate obstructionist and a climate hero (hence a hate figure to climate change deniers)? With the Durban meetings wrapping up soon, I guess we'll know more in the very near future about where the US stands. Certainly the hard-up US and EU nations aren't keen on loosening the purse strings for just anything nowadays. Still, China for one is becoming more amenable to a global deal.

But climate change doesn't matter the way deficits don't matter, right? If I had my way in this crummy world, I'd have sent both camps of fantasists to live in Guantanamo Bay a long time ago for some special conditioning. Serious problems call for serious people, and some folks simply prefer Cloud Cuckoo Land to unrelenting reality.